Where we grow with nature.
Based on the principles of land stewardship and a thriving ecosystem, Unity Farm is devoted to maintaining and developing the healthiest soils possible. It is on this foundation that we are able to grow the best product we can; nutritious, vibrant, great tasting, long lasting and free of insect and disease pressures. We also believe that when it all works together, we can enjoy the process and work the farm, rather than the farm working us. Our products are hand harvested and delivered with joy, and we hope that makes a difference to our customers as well.
Our efforts are not focused on getting bigger, rather on how we can do better with what we already have. As the years progress, we’ve added to the amount of acreage in greens and flower production, but we’ve also encouraged the native wildlife and natural pollinator habitat. We started a bumble culture windrow ala John Hayden for overwintering native pollinators, and installed edible windbreaks and locust and hawthorn trees for wind control. Areas around the ponds are left for milkweed and butterfly vegetation to flourish. Farming is definitely about the process, not the finish line.
Our vision for Unity Farm is to unify the needs of everyone who lives and works here in a sustainable and harmonious way — people, domestic animals, wild animals as well as our cultivated land and the natural environment.
We Promise Our Customers
Unity Farm promises to produce healthy, nutrient rich plants that taste great and look amazing. Unity Farm provides the highest quality products to our customers by focusing on sustainable practices that maintain and build on the thriving ecosystem. We work in unity with our customers to help build a stronger local community of sustainable, fresh, organic produce and ecologically grown flowers.
Unity Farm began in 2012 when owner Cathy Wells relocated from Shelburne to Charlotte, and created a new home for herself and her four working draft horses. The 54 acre property had been preserved through the Vermont Land Trust and could only be used for agricultural purposes. The property had no buildings or infrastructure and was a mix of an old apple orchard, a small woodlot, hay fields, an old corn plot, and encroaching wet soils from perpetual springs along the adjacent ridgeline.
Of the 54 acres, about 5 acres are in production for greens, flowers (annual and perennial) and a growing ornamental shrub nursery, 4 acres are a high quality hay field, 22 acres are in pasture and hay field for the horses, 14 acres are in a natural wooded ravine that runs through the property and the rest is wooded. Two ponds collect year around runoff from springs located on the ridge behind us. We’ve done extensive native plantings around the ponds and encourage as many natural settings as possible to attract native pollinators, birds and wildlife that flourish along with our farming practice.
Unity Farm Horses
Work on the Farm
One of the main inspirations behind Unity Farm was to keep our four English Shire draft horses working as they had been at our previous home. Sadly, Pete is no longer with us, but Jaguar, General and Rocket are still active members of the farm team. They help mow, disc, seed, clear brush, rake, spread manure and haul everything from compost to trash. You may have enjoyed a ride with us in the past at Shelburne Farms, Bread and Butter Farm and Shelburne Orchards, to name a few.
The horses take their jobs seriously and are bred to work. It can be more of a challenge to use them in some weather conditions, but the benefit from not using gas and less soil compaction is worth it. And, the pleasure of working as a team with fellow creatures gives us a greater sense of satisfaction than if we had used the tractor.
The English Shire Breed
is reputed to be the largest horse breed in the world. Our boys weigh in between 1700 – 2000 pounds, and are from 18.2 – 19.3 hands high at their shoulders. That’s big! Shires are renowned for being good natured and hard working. Here is a little info about “Our Boys”.
was bred and born in England and truly represented the stout Shire line with his big barrel and thick neck. His tail was so large we had to braid it in order to get it through his harness strap! He was a very hard worker and was our go-to lead horse until he passed away on July 15, 2017. He was an incredible teacher to all of us who worked with him and a truly noble Shire. We know you are pounding the turf again my friend with those mighty hooves and strong heart. God speed. We miss you. Pete would have been 20yrs old in 2019.
was bred and born in Ocala, Florida. We call him our “Zen” horse, because he has one speed, which is a slow walk. That makes him a great teammate for plowing, logging and anything that needs a slow, steady pace. Jaguar is the Houdini of the four and has an uncanny knack of opening up stall doors if we forget to put the extra latch on. Jaguar turns 17 in 2019.
was also bred and born in England. He was a show ring horse before he came to our farm, and still loves to step out strong with his legs prancing. He is the smallest of the four boys, but he is the leader. He can make any of the other horses move with just one lift of his white lashed eye. If we want to go anywhere quickly, we use Pete and General because they are “type A” workers. General turns 18 in 2019.
is the youngest of the four. He was a stallion until he was five years old, so he wasn’t able to hang out with the other horses in Ocala, Florida, where he was born and raised. When he came to Unity Farm he had just become a gelding and was looking for a friend. He and General are best friends. They eat together, sleep together and basically do everything together. Rocket is very good natured and is easy to team up with any of the other horses because he adjusts his speed to match whoever he’s with. Rocket will turn 15 in 2019.